Although there have already been seemingly countless releases of Dragon Ball Z on DVD, the Rock the Dragon Edition set stands out from the others in that it’s quite specifically geared to appeal to your nostalgic recollections of watching DBZ on Cartoon Network’s Toonami. That’s right! FUNimation Entertainment has at last released the entire 1996 English dub of Dragon Ball Z (otherwise known as the “Ocean dub”) as it originally aired on Toonami, in a single, collector’s edition box set.
The Rock the Dragon Edition is a celebration of the rise of DBZ’s popularity in the United States, and its lavish packaging serves as an expression of FUNimation’s gratitude to those who stuck with the series through this, its earliest incarnation in the States, to make it the pop culture phenomenon it would become. As such, the set borrows the moniker, “Rock the Dragon,” in tribute to the dub’s Americanized title sequence, which featured a song of the same name penned by Shuki Levy of Power Rangers fame. And how appropriate it is, as for many including myself, the series would be forever linked to that particular tune, even after it had long since been abandoned.
Some things that are vitally important to note about this particular dub of the series are that 1) it features a severely truncated version of the “Saiyan Saga” and 2) it doesn’t even come close to adapting the entire series into English. So while the set indeed includes the entirety of the dub including the first three movies, it only collects 53 episodes, which leave off right in the middle of the conflict with the Ginyu Force at what is the conclusion of the uncut series’ 67th episode. Therefore, this dub may have been many people’s introduction to the series, but it is by no means a good introduction for newcomers in 2013, given the rampant censorship and the removal of 14 episodes worth of material.
This is really all about nostalgia. Only those with fond memories of the series from this era or an overwhelming curiosity about the history of DBZ in the States should seek this out. But those who do will be amply rewarded with a massive set to proudly display atop their anime collection. Measuring approximately 11”x7”x1”, the Rock the Dragon Edition bears a striking resemblance to NIS America’s Premium Edition anime releases, although the set is far less sturdy that NIS’s releases on the whole given that the outer sleeve is not hardboard, but standard cardboard sleeve material. Still, it’s an attractive presentation of the series nonetheless. The set also includes a 48-page artbook built into the same hardback book that houses the set’s nine DVDs. The artbook features write-ups on the core cast of characters, a character relationship chart, two pages of trivia about the Ocean dub, and finally, the lyrics to “Rock the Dragon,” which is simultaneously awesome and absurd given how few words are actually in the song. So if you’re still holding onto a collection of decaying VHS tapes on which you recorded the Ocean dub back in 1996, horde them no longer, my friend, and upgrade to the Dragon Ball Z: Rock the Dragon Edition. Your dedication has been well rewarded.